Saturday, April 14, 2007


"Throughout December the verbal attacks continued from the mosques throughout Halabja, Erbil and Kirkuk. Then three of Kurdistan's Islamic parties, the United Islamic Party, the Islamic Kurdish League and the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan, joined the debate. By which I mean they bellowed for him [Mariwan Halabjayi] to be punished."
~ Mark Thomas.

Toward the end of March I provided a link to a petition against Shari'a as a major source of law for South Kurdistan, and mentione Houzan Mahmoud as one of the driving forces behind the petition. On Friday, an article written by Houzan appeared in the Guardian's Comment Is Free:

It is clear to the world that in those countries where sharia law is practised - or simply where groups of Islamic militias operate - freedom of expression, speech and association is under threat, if not totally absent. The rights of non-Islamic religious minorities are invariably violated and women suffer disproportionately.

Mmm . . . sounds like that great and secular Model of Democracy, Turkey, doesn't it?

The implementation of sharia law in Kurdistan would be the start of new bloody chapter in the Islamists' history of inhuman violence against the people, of oppression sanctioned by religious law.

In truth, sharia law contains explicit legal prescriptions that justify the violation of women's rights, specifically when it comes to family matters such as inheritance, marriage, divorce and custody of children.

Violent acts against women are already practised in Kurdistan. For decades, Kurdish women have been denied rights and have been oppressed due to patriarchal and religious cultures. Women in Kurdistan are still caught between the "values" of Islamic teaching and the desire for liberation. Thousands of women have been murdered in so-called honour killings, and the slaughter goes on to this day.

Women "self-burning", being forced into marriage and being denied the right to choose a partner are widespread. According to the Kurdistan human rights ministry, more than 533 women are reported to have committed suicide over the past year alone.

Well, if it isn't a damned shame to know that "more than 533 women" have committed suicide within the span of a year in South Kurdistan alone, then I don't know what a damned shame is. To think that patriarchal society places such restrictive, unjust pressure on the Middle East's most courageous, intelligent, and beautiful women is a filthy, stinking shame and a scandal of the worst proportions. Those Kurdish men--and Kurdish women--who continue to support a patriarchal system that brutally represses half of the Kurdish people, should be taken out and publicly horse-whipped within an inch of their lives as an example to everyone else.

I travelled back to Kurdistan in order to meet with two other members of our campaign, Sozan Shehab, member of the Kurdistan parliament, and Stivan Shamzinani, a journalist, to present our petition calling for removal of article seven to the Kurdistan parliament.

We met the committee responsible for the writing of the constitution and we held a press conference in the parliament buildings. Our campaign and our unequivocal demand for secularism became big news in Kurdistan and we were featured in the national papers and on TV channels, radio and websites.

Bijî Houzan, and her comrades, for making the situation of Kurdish women and the question of secularization into the public forum. Certainly there needs to be much public scrutiny of this subject.

The media attention given to our campaign panicked the Islamists, and just few days after our visit to parliament they launched a counter-campaign. They have announced their intention to "campaign to retain the Islamic identity of the Kurdish people". They have started to propagate the nonsense claim, via their various media outlets, that we want to impose secularism and forcibly deny people any right to express their identity as Muslims. Of course, this is simply another cowardly lie from a group of reactionaries who have been put on the back foot by our campaign's successes.

Well, if you want to impose the Turkish flavor of secularism, then of course people will be forcibly denied the right to express any religious identity (as well as any distinct ethnic identity), but the Turkish model is severely flawed anyway. This may be a place where Diaspora Kurds can jump into the battle and explain how secularism in the West has guaranteed the freedom to practice one's religious identity, at least before the jackasses on the fascist Western right purposely began to fuse their ideas about "Islamofascism" (what I prefer to call "totalitarian political Islam") with Islam as a whole.

The same goes, naturally, for the question of ethnic identity. Go to the link to read all of the things Houzan has to say about the campaign for secularism in South Kurdistan.

Deutsche Welle has a little something on the recent verbal sparring between Hewlêr and Ankara. Apparently the EU is urging "restraint." Yeah, I guess they'd have egg on their faces if South Kurdistan turned into another Northern Cyprus-type project for the paşas. I mean, how bad for image would it be to allow Turkey to join the economic club if that happened? They'd have to put off EU accession for at least six months.

I want to point out the third picture in the DW article, particularly the caption. That photo is from the Amed Serhildan last year, and it shows Turkish security forces massacring Kurds in Amed. But the caption gives the impression that those magnificent defenders of Turkish democracy are battling "rebels," meaning HPG. If DW can't or won't put a proper caption on the photos, then don't use the damned photos.

Asia Times has an article on the battle between Hewlêr and Ankara, too. Written by a former Indian ambassador to Turkey, it seems to stress the fact that Ankara already has economic control over South Kurdistan. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, to allow free economic reign to Turkey in South Kurdistan is to simply create a very strong reason for Turkish invasion. Business interests are national and security interests--just look at the US example. Any threat to US business interests is considered a threat to national and security interests, and since Turkey is always looking around with that monkey-see-monkey-do attitude, it's going to use this as another excuse for invasion on top of the Kerkuk issue.

But that's old news. What was interesting about the Asia Times article was something on page 2:

There is an extraordinary passage in the recent book The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War without End by Peter Galbraith, adviser to the Kurdish regional government. Galbraith reveals how Kurdish leaders themselves are modest in their expectations of Kurdish autonomy but external actors significantly influence them.

Galbraith said, "I realized that the Kurdish leaders had a conceptual problem in planning for a federal Iraq. They were thinking [circa 2003] in terms of devolution of power - meaning that Baghdad grants them rights. I urged that the equation be reversed. In a memo I sent [Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister] Barham [Salih] and [Prime Minister of the KRG] Nechirvan [Barzani] in August, I drew a distinction between the previous autonomy proposals and federalism: 'Federalism is a bottom-up system. The basic organizing unit of the country is the province or state' ...

"In a federal system, residual power lies with the federal unit (that is, state or province); under an autonomy system it rests with the central government. The central government has no ability to revoke a federal status or power: it can revoke an autonomy arrangement ...

"The constitution should state that the constitution of Kurdistan, and laws made pursuant to the constitution, is the supreme law of Kurdistan. Any conflict between laws of Kurdistan and the laws of the constitution of Iraq shall be decided in favor of the former. These ideas eventually became the basis of Kurdistan's proposals for an Iraq constitution."

In short, Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq sought Galbraith's help in 2003 for structuring Iraq's federal system of government, but instead he convinced them about a confederal system of government! Turkey ought to worry now that Galbraith might proceed to convince a hopelessly distracted Bush administration, too, that the Iraqi state was an aberration of history.

Now, I have never read specifically where Peter Galbraith has said that "the Iraqi state was an aberration of history," but I would not be surprised if he actually does believe the statement to be true, which it is. It was constructed with no regard whatsoever for the various ethnicities carved up, shoved together, and ruled by centralized strongmen for most, if not all, of its existence. This was done purely to control energy resources and that's the same reason the US has refused to consider a confederal system of government or to try to negotiate such a an arrangement.

Americans still largely have no clue about the ethnicities of the region. Example, this headline: "Turkey Attacks Iraqi Kurds", the body of which post goes on to describe the ongoing Turkish Terrorist Forces' operations in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, not in South Kurdistan. Turkey did send over a few artillery rounds last Sunday, as always blasting a civilian Başûrî village near Zaxo, but that fact was not addressed in the post.

Those fun-loving fascists at PajamasMedia have posted a little chat one of them had with Ankara's ambassador to the US and if you're so inclined, you can head over there to read Nabi Sensoy's lies. Man, there's nothing I'd rather do than sit and chat over coffee with a genocider and genocide-denier . . . except maybe develop rectal cancer.

On the other hand, Rock the Truth gets an "A" for effort, for recognizing that the Ankara regime has "massacre(d) their Kurds," and for noting that the majority of the almost-proverbial "37,000 people" murdered during the current Kurdish freedom struggle have been Kurds.

Very well done. Maybe there's hope, however dim.